Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sicilian Rice Cups

Another hot topic.
Ask most people and they'd say Sicilians are Italians. Sicily is a part of Italy, therefore they are all Italians. 

If my grandmother were alive she'd get all kinds of crazy on you!
 Siclians are not Italians!
We are Sicilian. End of story.

I am Sicilian. End of story.

So when I came across this lightened version (and remember, we are cooking light this month) of a traditional Sicilian appetizer/dish I was very excited to try it. And muffinize it!

The recipe is a take on the Arancini, Sicilian Fried Rice Balls, or "little oranges." Traditionally, Arancini is made with rice, peas, ragu, and mozzarella. You mix all those ingredients together,  roll in small balls, cover them in breadcrumbs and fry them. Instead of new rice and peas, many Sicilian families would take left over risotto and peas (another classic) and turn that into Arancini. Doesn't that sound delish!?

Today we have a nice light version of this recipe, sans the frying, courtesy of

Sicilian Rice Cups

2 cups uncooked long grain rice
4 cups water
2 (5 oz) sweet Italian sausage link, casing removed
1/4 cup onion, minced 
salt and fresh pepper
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 cups tomato sauce
1/3 cup egg beaters or egg whites (or 1 whole egg)
1/2 cup pecorino romano
cooking spray
Seasoned breadcrumbs
1 1/4 cup shredded part skim mozzarella 

*Note: I like my recipes simple and user friendly. If you don't have some of these ingredients, improvise. Leave out the meat, substitute for ground turkey, use Parmesan instead of pecorino. Your choice. The most important part is the rice, egg, sauce, cheese and breadcrumbs.

1. Preheat oven to 400f. Cook rice in water according to package directions. Set aside to cool.

2. Meanwhile, sauté sausage meat; cook until no longer pink, breaking up into pieces with a wooden spoon. Add onions and cook until browned. Season with salt and pepper to taste, add peas and 1 1/2 tomato sauce. Cover and let simmer for about 20 minutes.

3. In a large bowl combine rice, pecorino romano, eggs, and 1/2 cup tomato sauce and mix. Rice should be a bit sticky.

4. Spray your 12 cup muffin pan with cooking spray, add a pinch of bread crumbs to each cup. Divide the rice mixture one spoon at a time into each cup. It should be about 2-3 tbsp for each cup. Pack the rice down. Cover the rice mixture with the sauce (or ragu) the same way as the rice, one spoonful at a time til its gone.  Cover each with a pinch more bread crumbs and the shredded mozzarella. (Feel free to layer  the rice, meat and cheese or mix everything together in one bowl and spoon in. Really however you'd like to do it.)

5. Bake for about 15 minutes covered in foil and another 5-10 with the foil off. It should be bubble and hot all the way through.

6. Scoop out each rice cup and serve. Store the left overs in the fridge and eat for lunch the next day. And maybe also dinner the next night as well. Hehe Add a salad and you got yourself a healthy AND proportioned meal.

P.S. Aren't these photos a VAST improvement from before? They aren't perfect in fact they are a little fuzzy now that I look at them.  I have a "new" (okay, borrowed) camera that I'm using and the pictures are turning out GREAT! And not yellow which I LOVE! Maybe I'll post pictures of the camera... if I can find a way to take nice photos of the camera without the nice camera hehe


  1. This sounds fantastic!!!

    For gluten-free, any suggestions on a substitution for the breadcrumbs? Just noting that you list it as an essential ingredient.

    What would be a good non-stick-aid in the pan?

    Thanks so much ;)

  2. You most certainly could take out the breadcrumbs. I just think they are important for that "crunch" factor but not essential.

    As for non stick, I usually use Pam olive oil spray. However, plain ol' olive oil rubbed into the cups would work. I like olive oil over butter or canola oil because the flavor of olive oil compliments the dish.

    Thanks for your questions!

  3. Oooo....these look yummy! I'll be making the original recipe first and then I might substitute the peas with a handful of capers and try it with Trader Joe's seafood sausage. Off to the grocery store....

  4. YUM! I'm printing this recipe for next week's menu. Thanks for sharing!


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